Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Luis Alberto Urrea  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1955 Tijuana, Mexico

-- Website --
-- Luis Alberto Urrea on WorldCat --

E-Mail: --

Illinois Connection

Urrea lives in Naperville and is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Luis Alberto Urrea is the bestselling author of ''The Devil's Highway'', ''The Hummingbird's Daughter'', ''Into the Beautiful North'', and ''Queen of America'', among others. He has won the Lannan Literary Award, the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize, an American Book Award, the Christopher Award, and an Edgar Award, among other honors. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, he lives outside of Chicago and is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago. A member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, he is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.

Published Works

  • Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border, Anchor Books, 1993
  • In Search of Snow, Harper Collins, 1994
  • The Fever of Being, West End, 1994
  • By the Lake of Sleeping Children: The Secret Life of the Mexican Border, Anchor Books, 1996
  • Ghost Sickness, Cinco Puntos Press, 1997
  • Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life, University of Arizona Press, 1998
  • Wandering Time: Western Notebooks, University of Arizona Press, 1999
  • Six Kinds of Sky: A Collection of Short Fiction, Cinco Puntos Press, 2002
  • The Devil's Highway, Little, Brown and Company, 2004
  • The Hummingbird's Daughter, Little, Brown and Company, 2005
  • Into the Beautiful North, Little, Brown and Company, 2009
  • Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush, Cinco Puntos Press, 2010
  • Queen of America, Little, Brown and Company, 2011
  • The Water Museum, Little Brown and Company, 2015
  • The House of Broken Angels, Little Brown and Company, 2017

Selected Titles At Your Library

Across the wire :
ISBN: 0385425309. OCLC Number:

Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.,. New York :. 1993.

This is a book of fragments, stories of moments in the lives of people along the Mexican border.

In search of snow :
ISBN: 0816520151. OCLC Number:

University of Arizona Press,. Tucson :. 1999.

The fever of being :
ISBN: 0931122783. OCLC Number:

West End Press,. Albuquerque, N.M. :. 1994.

Ghost sickness /
ISBN: 093831730X. OCLC Number:

Cinco Puntos Press,. El Paso, Tex. :. ©1997.

Wandering time :
ISBN: 0816518661. OCLC Number:

University of Arizona Press,. Tucson :. ©1999.

Fleeing a failed marriage and haunted by ghosts of his past, Luis Alberto Urrea jumped into his car several years ago and headed west. Driving cross-country with a cat named Rest Stop, Urrea wandered the West from one Spring through the next. As nature opened Urrea's eyes, writing opened his heart. In journal entries that sparkle with discovery, Urrea ruminates on music, poetry, and the landscape. With wonder and spontaneity, he relates tales of marmots, geese, bears, and fellow travelers. He makes readers feel mountain air "so crisp you feel you could crunch it in your mouth" and reminds us all to experience the magic and healing of small gestures, ordinary people, and common creatures.

Six kinds of sky :
ISBN: 0938317636. OCLC Number:

Cinco Puntos Press,. El Paso, Tex. :. ©2002.

Offers a collection of six stories featuring Native American and Hispanic characters, set in various locations from Mexico City and Tijuana to the Sioux nation in South Dakota.

The devil's highway :
ISBN: 0316010804. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. New York :. ©2004.

Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil's Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds. Only 12 men came back out. 2 maps.

The hummingbird's daughter :
ISBN: 0316154520. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown, and Co.,. New York :. 2005.

This historical novel is based on Urrea's real great-aunt Teresita, who had healing powers and was acclaimed as a saint. Urrea has researched historical accounts and family records for years to get an accurate story.

Into the beautiful North :
ISBN: 0316025275. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown and Company,. New York :. 2009.

"Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US when she was young. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own "Siete Magníficos"--To repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over."--Provided by publisher.

Mr. Mendoza's paintbrush /
ISBN: 1933693231. OCLC Number:

. .

Tells a story of a graffiti artist, Mr. Mendoza, who goes about the Mexican village of Rosario creating masterpieces that reflect the social ills of the city. One day his paintbrush creates a miraculous event that no one in Rosario ever forgets.

Queen of America :
ISBN: 0316154865. OCLC Number:

Little, Brown,. New York :. 2011.

The remarkable heroine of The hummingbird's daughter returns in this epic novel of love and loss in a restless America. Teresita's passage will take her across the nation as she comes to terms with her place in a new world. She must finally ask herself the ultimate question: is a saint allowed to fall in love?

The water museum :
ISBN: 0316334375. OCLC Number:

. .

A short story collection that examines the borders between nations and between people, including the Edgar-winning Amapola and his now classic Bid farewell to her many horses.

The house of broken angels :
ISBN: 0316154881. OCLC Number:

. .

"In Urrea's exuberant new novel of Mexican-American life, 70-year-old patriarch Big Angel de la Cruz is dying, and he wants to have one last birthday blowout. Unfortunately, his 100-year-old mother, America, dies the week of his party, so funeral and birthday are celebrated one day apart. The entire contentious, riotous de la Cruz clan descends on San Diego for the events. High rollers and college students, prison veternaos and welfare mothers, happy kids and sad old-timers and pinches gringos and all available relatives. Not to mention figurative ghosts of the departed and an unexpected guest with a gun. Taking place over the course of two days, with time out for an extended flashback to Big Angel's journey from La Paz to San Diego in the 1960s, the narrative follows Big Angel and his extended familia as they air old grievances, initiate new romances, and try to put their relationships in perspective. Of the large cast, standouts include Perla, Big Angel's wife, the object of his undimmed affection; Little Angel, his half-Anglo half-brother, who strains to remain aloof; and Lalo, his son, trailing a lifetime of bad decisions. Urrea (The Hummingbird's Daughter) has written a vital, vibrant book about the immigrant experience that is a messy celebration of life's common joys and sorrows"--Publisher's weekly.


Across the Wire

  • Notable Book of the Year Award, New York Times
  • The Devil's Highway

  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize
  • Montclar Book, Montclair State University, 2013
  • All-Freshman Read, University of Texas-San Antonio
  • The Hummingbird's Daughter

  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2013
  • Into the Beautiful North

  • Big Read Book, NEA
  • Ghost Sickness

  • Poetry from Western States Book Award
  • The Water Museum

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award
  • Notable Book of the Year, Washington Post
  • Best Books of the Year, Kirkus
  • Best Books of the Year, NPR
  • Best Books of the Year, Men's Journal

    Body of Work

  • Lannan Literary Award
  • American Book Award
  • Western States Book Award
  • Colorado Book Award
  • Latino Literary Hall of Fame
  • Christopher Award
  • Kiriyama Prize
  • Hispanic Cultural Center's Literary Award
  • Edgar Award
  • American Library Association Citation of Excellence
  • LAS Distinguished Professor

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Please contact Trinity J. Ray, at